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Financial comparison site Moneysmart raises $10m series B to grow into new markets

Singapore-based financial products and services comparison site Moneysmart has raised US$10 million for its series B round, it announced today.

The round is led by Japanese web group Kakaku, which operates a number of consumer websites in sectors like shopping, travel, lifestyle, and real estate. Its properties include shopping price comparison site Kakaku.com, restaurant review portal Tabelog, and lifestyle media outlet Kinarino.

Existing investors SPH Media Fund and Golden Gate Ventures, that participated in Moneysmart’s series A in October 2015, also joined this round.

Moneysmart helps users compare 17 different personal finance products including credit cards, insurance, and loans. Site visitors can also read about various financial topics on the accompanying blog, maintained by full-time staff.

The funding will help Moneysmart ramp up its marketing efforts and hire more people. The startup has “more than doubled” its headcount since its series A and this will continue with new hires in product development, sales, content, and new market expansion.

Gearing up for expansion

Founder and CEO Vinod Nair demurs on details about which new markets the startup is interested in. It entered Indonesia in late 2014 by acquiring local counterpart KreditAja, which was later renamed to DuitPintar.

Nair indicates that Moneysmart might not be in a financial position to outright buy another company to enter a new market (the KreditAja acquisition was an equity deal, with KreditAja taking a minority stake in Moneysmart). However, he doesn’t rule out the possibility.

Moneysmart claims to have an average of 700,000 unique visitors per month. Nair doesn’t reveal any details about the startup’s revenue but says revenue has doubled year-on-year for the last three years. Moneysmart’s focus on sustained growth, choosing markets carefully and growing in them before branching out, was one of the factors that attracted Kakaku as an investor, he adds.

The startup competes with fellow Singaporean company GoBear, which also offers insurance, credit card, and loan comparison, and is present in six markets in Southeast Asia.

Kakaku, a prominent Japanese online brand, sees Moneysmart as an opportunity to tap into consumer markets in Southeast Asia. “Our missions are very similar – help with people’s decision-making,” says Genta Sugihara, senior executive officer for Kakaku’s corporate development division.

Sugihara, who joins Moneysmart’s board, says that Kakaku’s approach on new markets doesn’t involve the company pushing its branding or its people on portfolio companies but rather supporting them on their growth.

The relationship between the two companies doesn’t mean Moneysmart is going to land in Japan anytime soon, Nair tells Tech in Asia. The partnership will mostly involve the exchange of technology, knowledge, and best practices, he adds.

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